BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
This year, Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) members planted 80 million coniferous seedlings on harvested sites—and the province’s commercial tree nurseries are critical partners in helping forest companies grow tree seedlings to meet their reforestation obligations.
Comprised primarily of companies like Coast to Coast Reforestation, PRT Growing Services, and Woodmere Nursery, they provide nearly all of the coniferous growing stock used by forest companies in the province. In some cases, they also provide a variety of deciduous stock used in both reforestation and reclamation.
“We grow most of the reforestation stock for all the forest companies in Alberta,” says Larry Lafleur, President of Coast to Coast Reforestation. “Our marketing is done by face-to-face contact with the silviculture foresters in the province. We also, as a group, grow all of the reclamation stock for all of the oil sands companies in Fort McMurray.”
Several of these companies manage a vast network of commercial greenhouses with customers throughout North America.
“Without these local commercial tree nurseries, the forest industry in Alberta would likely be very different,” says Toso Bozic, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Bioenergy/Agroforestry Specialist. “For decades, they have been a critical linchpin to ensuring that we have quality seedlings that produce healthy replacement trees.”
Bozic says that there are about 20 hectares under greenhouse tree nursery production in Alberta. Lafleur estimates that the area dedicated to the industry today is probably about four times greater than it was in 1994.
While helping to support a healthy environment and forest industry, commercial tree nurseries are also major economic contributors to rural communities. They provide jobs and spend money with local businesses. For example, Woodmere Nursery has its operations in Fairview, PRT Growing Services has a commercial greenhouse in Beaverlodge, and Coast to Coast Reforestation, which is a new generation co-op, has five greenhouses in Bonnyville, Smoky Lake, and Medicine Hat. A new generation co-op requires members to be invited to join.
Together, all of these commercial reforestation greenhouses provide over 60 full time jobs and between 300 and 400 seasonal jobs. The nature of the industry is such that there are critical seasons for planting, harvesting, and product delivery, requiring a greater workforce during those times.
“The nursery is very busy during the summer months and for many high school students, the job opportunity offers a great work experience in a safe and well-managed work place,” says Glenn Goodwill with PRT Growing Services. “Many of our temporary employees return each year and appreciate the opportunity to earn some extra money.”
Commercial nursery owners say that the process of gathering seed, storage, growing reforestation stock, and transportation back to harvested sites for replanting could use a bit more publicity.
“I think that average Albertans do not know what our role is and the fact that most seedlings actually do survive in the forest,” says Jeff Hoyem, Manager at Woodmere Nursery in Fairview. “Of course we do not blow our horns enough about the importance of supplying quality seedlings.”
The Alberta government plays a vital role, to ensure that there is a high degree of integrity in the reforestation process. While it is the forest company’s responsibility to gather cones from each harvested site as a source of seed for reforestation, the government places the seeds from these cones in climate-controlled storage at its Smoky Lake facility. Coast to Coast Reforestation, which has a seed retrieval and commercial greenhouse site next to the government storage site, uses its seed retrieval technology to open the cones and gather the seed. It is carefully catalogued when placed in government storage, because seedlings grown from cones gathered from a particular site are planted back at the exact same site where the cones were gathered. This ensures that seedlings grown for a particular site are genetically suitable for that site and have a high probability of survival.
Forest companies choose where the seeds held in storage are sent to produce growing stock, based on the price they are able to negotiate with commercial reforestation greenhouse providers.
Growing coniferous seedlings has evolved over the years. The standard practice now is for most reforestation stock to be grown in containers vs. bare root stock. Hoyem says that there is also a lot more wireless monitoring and quality control used as part of the growing process within the industry.
For more information about Alberta’s commercial reforestation greenhouse industry, contact Toso Bozic at [email protected].
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
The Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) is aiming to bring its forest research to life through a dedicated group called the Technology Development and Transfer Group, recognizing that there is significant demand among forest practitioners for this service.
Working under the umbrella of the CWFC research program, their objective is to organize, seek out and participate in more knowledge and information transfer opportunities to better inform and accelerate uptake of the quality research and tools that are available to industry from CWFC’s extensive research program.
“This is relatively unique, and although we have been doing it for many years, we have formalized it to the point where it is embedded right into our research program,” says Derek Sidders, Program Manager at CWFC. “The Technology Development and Transfer Group is actually responsible for reporting on a lot of the science activities that are going on with CWFC so that the progress from concept to reality can be moved forward in a very timely manner to stakeholders.”
CWFC has three program areas. These are: decision support tools to identify wood fibre attributes and to predict change in fibre attributes; investigating new generation tools and techniques to achieve enhanced forest inventory; and stand establishment practices and silviculture solutions for resilient forests, which includes a steady fibre supply and a contribution to the bioeconomy.
It will fulfill its mandate to bring CWFC forest research to life in four ways. These are to develop technology to apply forest research, to adopt technology to apply forest research, to demonstrate technology to forest practitioners for delivery right into the hands of the final user, and to use various communication tools and new media to visualize forest research sites, studies, results and opportunities.
“There is nothing better than to actually see what you are hearing in a presentation, to get a very good perspective and to move knowledge forward,” says Sidders.
A good example of developing technology to apply forest research is CWFC’s site preparation practices that it has developed for partial harvest systems. Potential applications include shelterwood silviculture systems, establishing softwoods under mature hardwood stands, and rehabilitation of mountain pine beetle-impacted sites through crop re-establishment in the understorey.
“Site preparation techniques for partial harvest systems have been developed so that we can site prepare an understorey and create what we might consider a fairly subtle microsite or disturbance that gives us the ability to maintain the natural ecosystem, but also enhance the preferred crop species on the site,” says Sidders.
An example of adopting technology to apply forest research is genomics and ways to mass propagate planting material that provides diversity while also addressing risks associated with a changing climate, pests, and pathogens.
“It’s all very well to have the focused research work, but we also need to have the applied aspect where we introduce technologies that give us the ability to move this knowledge to the final user,” says Sidders.
In terms of introducing technology to forest practitioners, Sidders says that CWFC has a long history of collaborating with its research and industry colleagues to present active field demonstrations and tours across the country. There is no better way to present developing science knowledge and take it to its final user. This activity will continue with this group.
The greater use of visualization tools like video, including aerial views of sites using drones, will aim to show ground conditions, treatments, transitions, results and comparisons of results.
“There’s nothing like a visual presentation to put the data in perspective,” says Sidders.
The group will also be using these tools to develop virtual tours and stand-alone information systems and spatial models to access, for example, residual biomass opportunities in Canada, as well as the potential for short rotation woody crop production on non-forested land, tied to CWFC’s well-developed site suitability classification system that indicates which species and clones are suitable for particular areas based on its research and development.
“We are inviting forest practitioners and researchers to contact us and work with us to advance their research or interests from a practices perspective to a final use, and to marry the research and development with advancing forest management practices,” says Sidders. “This is not a new concept, but moreover a new movement to integrate science with progressive delivery of that knowledge to final users.”
To contact the Technology Development and Transfer Group to discuss its mandate and potential opportunities for collaboration, contact Derek Sidders at [email protected].
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
Alberta is serious about diversifying its economy with more bioindustrial products and technologies, while reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The recent SPARK 2017 networking and technology exchange conference is one example of how the province is putting out the welcome mat to attract more cleantech innovators, while helping them to connect with customers and investors.
“Our province’s doors are open to ideas and investment,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who welcomed the sellout crowd of nearly 600 registrants to the two-and-a-half day event in Edmonton.
She reminded attendees that Alberta’s goal is to generate 30 per cent of its power needs from renewable sources by 2030, representing about 5,000 megawatts of green power. She was joined at the conference by Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office.
Co-hosted by Alberta Innovates (AI) and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), SPARK 2017 succeeded in its goal of providing an exceptional networking and knowledge exchange platform. ERA and AI designed the conference to bring together multiple sectors to focus on clean technology. It was also intended to link researchers and innovators with each other, and with enabling organizations, government and the business community.
“I estimate that about 70 per cent of the registrants here are looking for capital,” said Bruce Edgelow, managing partner and founder of EdgeMark Capital & Advisory Service.
At times, SPARK 2017 resembled Match Game, Dragon’s Den, and even Dr. Phil, as innovators were counselled by high-quality investors on a variety of strategies to advance and accelerate commercialization of their ideas and technologies.
Another common theme from both financiers and government funding enablers was the importance of pursuing partners and customers on a global scale.
“What I hope as an outcome from SPARK 2017 is what I call positive collisions,” said Alberta Innovates CEO, Laura Kilcrease. “What I mean by that is when you have a network of 600 people with different knowledge, different interests and different ways of thinking about things, people will meet who otherwise have never connected before. Out of that networking environment and the knowledge within the network, there will be positive collisions that will spark new activities and new outcomes.”
She added that the partnership between AI and ERA as conference co-hosts was a tremendous opportunity to raise the profile of both organizations and to highlight support they provide together and separately to nurture both bioindustrial and GHG reduction products and technologies to commercialization.
Steve MacDonald, CEO of ERA, agrees that the most important outcome from SPARK 2017 will be the relationships and partnerships that develop because of this networking opportunity. The event succeeded in bringing together entrepreneurs, innovators, customers and educators, he said.
“If SPARK 2017 results in a more successful journey along the continuum from idea to product and product to company, and we get both strong environmental and economic outcomes, that’s the home run,” he said. “What I also hope comes out of this event is absolute clarity that Alberta Innovates and ERA are joined hand-in- hand in the innovation system.“
One of the many highlights during SPARK 2017 was release of the findings of the 2018 Cleantech Directions state of the industry report, which had a special focus on Alberta. It provided a snapshot of prevailing issues related to the advancement of cleantech provincially and nationally. The report analyzed more than 470 responses, including 206 from Alberta.
Among its findings was that the greatest demand for cleantech is in waste management and recycling systems followed by energy efficiency.
The next opportunity to continue these important conversations will be at INVENTURE$ 2018, planned for next June 6-8 in Calgary. Its goal is to spark new ideas, innovations and partnerships, spur economic diversification initiatives, and generate investment in Alberta.
Visit www.spark2017.ca for more information about SPARK 2017 and www.inventurescan.com for information about the upcoming INVENTURE$ conference in Calgary. Or contact AI Communications Specialist, Julia Necheff at [email protected].
On the Cover:
While others shy away from oilpatch logging, Alberta's JD Haggart Contracting pursues this business for one simple reason—it pays better and they have the experience to be able to mobilize quickly when an opportunity comes their way. They also have the equipment to deliver the wood, including two John Deere 2154 processor carriers, both equipped with Waratah heads. Read all about the operation beginning on page 10 of this issue. (Cover photo by Tony Kryzanowski)
Balancing out the forestry workplace
There’s a movement underway to encourage more women to work in the forest industry, and it’s getting some solid traction from forest company Tolko Industries—and full support from women who are now working in the industry.
Ability and availability = logging success
Alberta logging contractor JD Haggart—managed by the husband and wife team of Dave and Roxanne Haggart—know that ability and availability are keys to logging success, especially in oilpatch logging.
Front end focus following mill fire
Saskatchewan’s NorSask Forest Products is bouncing back from a fire that hit its sawmill earlier this year, and has invested $21 million on a major front end redesign following the fire.
Bringing on the next generation...
Nova Scotia’s Sebastien Pouliot knew he wanted to be a logger at a very young age—and he’s now successfully ushering in a new generation of equipment operators, through a training program.
Salvage logging in B.C.—but this time it's for burned wood
Forest companies and logging contractors are getting ready to go into salvage mode big-time to tackle the burned timber from the worst fire season B.C. has ever seen. It’s been estimated that about 53 million cubic metres of timber has been burned, about four times the provincial allowable annual cut.
Paul Hargrave and his son, Scott, have a passion for sawmilling—and for race cars, too, since they have a combination sawmill/speedway operation on B.C.’s Vancouver Island.
Team logging effort
The husband and wife team that manages Ontario’s St. Onge logging has been successful in directing their operations through the industry’s rocky times—and now has a very successful chipping operation, and recently started logging for EACOM and Weyerhaeuser.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates and Alberta Agriculture.
The Last Word
Jim Stirling on B.C.’s wildest wildfire season, and looking at how to prevent a repeat performance.